Sideways Changeling - The Electric Guitars (Volume Creep)
The Electric Guitars are fucking extraordinary. I saw this outfit in Geelong and they deliberately mess with your expectations. Partly I spose it's 'cause there are so many fucking rock'n'roll bands. And these days, there's a big swing towards the manner of psychedelia (without the bad trips and foul behaviour) in the US and UK.
Yeah, so the Electric Guitars use wah-wah. But it's hardly a mannered thing - they use a lot of effects, and they ain't shy about it. This outfit don't need drugs to get your attention, instead they have carefully set-up songs and wield them like scalpels, chainsaws and bludgeons, sometimes all at once.
You think you know where you are with a band like this, you'll fall on your face. The second song alone ("Three Body Problem") is a case in point... you're sucked in, frankly, and after a while your sinuses are aching and your inner ear is rattling. If you have fillings, take them out before you listen.
One of the things about the psychedelic era was that the drugs took hold and, instead of genius, produced miasmas of poop. Not all, of course, but still. The Electric Guitars are into shoving guitars into as many different aural soundscapes as possible, within the structure of the song. So you're always going to get either a surprise or something you want to run from (or, toward, in my case).
The Barman, I see, mentions the Jesus and Nancy Chain (for the third song, "Sadistically Speaking") and Sonic Youth. I found the JMC to be rather self-indulgent and boring, frankly (ED: Me too); and I confess to not being that excited by the Youth in the flesh either.
I get why people like both bands - golly, those radical names and the squeally guitar. When I saw the JMC it was to see the support band, The Lizard Train, and as far as I was concerned there was only one band who could use feedback creatively and it wasn't the lads with the moody image (the JMC lived by schticks nicked from other people - like the Birthday Party). When I saw the Youth - two fucking nights, I shouldn't have bothered - they were methodical rather than inspiring, merely another noisy Noo Yawk band. And I had all the Youth's records at that point, too.
By comparison, live, the Electric Guitars are far more entertaining and intimate;. If I haven't indicated it yet, "Sadistically Speaking" merely reveals one slight arrow to their quiver. The other songs are all very different, with the common denominator of crushing, acidic, scathing guitar laid up over gorgeous songs.
Molly would run a mile in his tighty whities trying hard to prevent seepage, Trump would purse his lips and say, "Poot?", and if you had a time machine you could transport the Electric Guitars back to La Cave (on Euclid Avenue, Cleveland) and not only would they sound pretty much groovy, they'd wipe the floor with a hell of a lot of the competition.
I apologise for all the '60s mentions but when you hear this you'll get it. But ... and it's a huge but..."Sideways Changeling" is like they were there at the time, but went in a very different direction rather suddenly. The Electric Guitars are very, very 1970 - after the '60s died at Altamont. I'd say the Stones would have had a hard time following a band like this. And that, dear reader, is merely my reaction to Side One.
Each LP's side begins with a short musical fugue, before launching into a completely different world. The control this band has, their determination to make their songs the most forceful you've ever heard is worth hearing.
No more. I love the second side as well. Bucketloads of talent, grit and songs wrapped in big fuschia snow, silk sheets and champagne cocktails, filth and swabs found in the street.
Look for a cover that looks like what happens after a bad trip. The inside cover is the interior of your stomach after a week of bad trips. "Sideways Changeling" is great, fabulous fun and deserves a place in your head, man.
Five bottles, easy. Probably more. No, definitely more. Make it up? You couldn't. - Robert Brokenmouth
A little Stooge-y, a lot Velvets-y and Jesus and the Mary Chain, “Sideways Changeling” has much going for it. Like all of the above-mentioned, the music requires deep immersion but if you get any of those bands, you’ll get this.
It’s the sort of music that would be tolerated in Sydney and Brisbane but thrives in Melbourne. For its staid facade, Dull City is actually the place for art - dark or otherwise. Its embracing of music that fills dark crevices especially is what sets it apart.
Viscous, absorbing sound is The Electric Guitars’ stock-in-trade. Recorded masterfully by Rocket Science’s Paul Maybury at A Secret Location Sound Recorders in hometown Melbourne, it’s a sonic collage that constantly shifts because it’s not glued to any one page.
The Electric Guitars do this psychedelic thing so very well. Each song is a different trip full of jolts and abrasive sonic textures. From the surging, other-worldly fog to the industrial throb and flow, its doom-laden sound compels and repels.
The beauty in “Sideways Changeling” lies in its ability to throw you off-balance. Case in point is the initially creeping “Velvet Hell”. This one suddenly picks up pace, with a heavily distorted wah-wah solo cutting through the mix like a bandsaw through a side of beef. Watch out for the blood.
“Nitro Venus” employs a little - no, make that a lot of - Sonic Youth chordal dissonance with the “Fun House” Stooges looking on approvingly, while “Sadistically Speaking” sounds like it’s applying a repetitive guitar figure to your face with an electric staple gun.
No psychedelic album would be complete without a meandering sonic mind-fuck with a raga-like outro and “Eternal Life Crisis” provides it in bucketloads.
Buy it as an LP or digital download. “Sideways Changeling” won’t have you humming the tunes while you iron your shirts but it will make you scorch a few. - The Barman